Brighte founder Katherine McConnell is Australia’s outstanding FinTech leader of 2018

Business Insider is the proud exclusive media partner for the 2018 Finnies, the annual Fintech Australia awards recognising leadership and innovation in the nation’s financial technology sector. Jobs for NSW is the presenting partner of the Finnies. Read more on the awards. »
Katherine McConnell of Brighte. Image: Supplied

Katherine McConnell, the founder and CEO of ​energy financing startup Brighte​, which last month secured $18.5 million in Series B funding, has been named Australia’s outstanding FinTech leader of the year.

She was named the winner against a field of finalists including David Link of Verrency, Lucy Liu and Jack Zhang at Airwallex, and Alex Scandurra of Stone & Chalk.

McConnell founded Brighte in 2015 after a 16-year career in investment banking and financial services, including Macquarie Bank.

Her company provides on-the-spot finance for energy home improvements, such as solar panels, insulation and batteries. Applications take two minutes for customers to complete with a decision in nine seconds.

Since it launched 18 months ago, the startup has approved $50 million of applications from more than 6,000 Australian homeowners.

One judge said: “​Katherine is an inspirational female FinTech founder and has demonstrated her excellent leadership skills and vision to drive the business growth of Brighte”.

The award was one of 23 handed out at the annual Finnies awards by industry group FinTech Australia. The awards were decided by 81 domestic and international judges.

The Finnies celebrate the remarkable achievements of Australia’s best FinTech businesses in sectors such as lending, wealth management, payments, crowdfunding, blockchain, artificial intelligence and regtech.

A new award category was introduced in this year’s awards, the best fintech customer experience/design outcome.

FinTech Australia CEO Brad Kitschke congratulated McConnell and all the other winners of the 2018 Finnie awards.

“The winners of the 2018 Finnies are providing consumers and businesses new and improved services and a real alternative to the banks and other traditional financial institutions,” says Kitschke.

He says the Finnie Awards recognise the high potential of growth in the Australian fintech industry which are already generating future economic returns and jobs.

“The fact we received 223 award entries — a 40% increase from the 158 entries in 2017 — in itself illustrates the increasing number of strong companies and leaders within our growing Australian FinTech industry,” says Kitschke.

John Barilaro, the NSW Deputy Premier and Minister for Small Business, says he’s thrilled to see 16 out of the 23 award winners are NSW based, including the fintech leader of the year and emerging fintech leader of the year.

“This is a tremendous result for our fintech sector with NSW picking up 55 out of 89 finalist positions and now nearly 70% of the awards,” he says.

“We recognise the important and increasing role of fintech in driving innovation and future growth in our financial services sector.

“The NSW Government is investing heavily in startups which are creating jobs and industries for the future, including through initiatives like Jobs for NSW and the Sydney Startup Hub as well as our support for the Finnie Awards.”

NSW is investing $35 million in the Sydney Startup Hub which is home to leading fintech accelerator Stone & Chalk.

The 2018 Finnie winners:

  • FinTech Organisation of the Year – ​Afterpay
  • Emerging FinTech Organisation of the Year – ​Civic Ledger
  • Outstanding FinTech Leader of the Year – Katherine McConnell, Founder and CEO, ​Brighte
  • Female FinTech Leader of the Year – ​Airwallex​ co-founder and chief operating officer Lucy Liu
  • Emerging FinTech Leader of the Year – ​Afterpay​ CEO and co-founder Nick Molnar
  • Excellence in Wealth Management – ​Pocketbook
  • Excellence in Payments – ​Airwallex
  • Excellence in Consumer Lending – ​RateSetter Australia
  • Excellence in Regtech – ​Proviso
  • Excellence in Blockchain/Distributed Ledger – ​AgriDigital
  • Excellence in Business Lending – ​Trade Ledger
  • Excellence in Data/AI Solutions – ​Data Republic
  • Excellence in Insurtech – ​Cover Genius
  • Excellence in Cyber Security – ​XM Cyber
  • Excellence in Digital Currencies/Wallets/Exchanges – ​Finch
  • Excellence in Crowdfunding – ​OnMarket
  • Best Marketing/Branding Initiative of the Year – ​SocietyOne
  • Excellence in Industry Collaboration & Partnerships – ​TravelbyBit
  • Excellence in Establishing Market Presence: Global – ​Verrency
  • Excellence in FinTech Support Services (Infrastructure and Investment) – ​Stone & Chalk
  • Excellence in FinTech Support Services (Professional Services) – ​The Fold Legal
  • Best Customer/User Experience – ​Look Who’s Charging
  • Best Workplace Diversity – ​Valiant Finance
  • * Business Insider is the proud exclusive media partner for the 2018 Finnies, the annual Fintech Australia awards recognising leadership and innovation in the nation’s financial technology sector. We will be bringing you all the best stories from Finnie entrants and Australia’s fintech industry in the lead-up to the gala awards ceremony on June 13. Jobs for NSW is the presenting partner of the Finnies. Find out more here.

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